One of the topics I haven’t spent much time teaching on in our student ministry is eschatology (or commonly called the end times). One of the reasons may be because of my own shifting in views of how I understand what the Bible teaches about the end times or the fact it’s an area of theology that contains so many various views it’s hard to know what exactly to focus on when you teach on this topic to students. It can be a tough topic to address in any setting and especially in student ministry.
Recently we did a series called “This I Believe.” In this series we walked through the major points of Christianity and covered topics like the Bible, Godhead, Angels & Demons, Mankind, Salvation, and the Church. To wrap up the series we talked about what we as Christians believe about the end times.
As I said earlier, this is a topic that contains many different views that all fall within orthodox Christianity. There are multiple views on the rapture and the millennial kingdom as well as different views on how to interpret the book of Revelation. There are also different views on the relation of the church and Israel and how that plays out in thee end times.
So with all those competing views what did I decide to land on when it came to teaching my students about the end times. I decided to focus on the major things we do know and that the Bible is clear on while not addressing (maybe I will in a different setting one day) some of the areas of debate like timing of rapture or nature of the millennial kingdom. My focus was on three main events: return of Jesus, final judgment, and eternal state (heaven and hell).
You can watch the entire talk below and see how I handled these topics.
Respectable Sin by Jerry Bridges. One of the authors God has used to shape my spiritual life is Jerry Bridges. His book Pursuit of Holiness was huge in helping me understand personal holiness. His other writings have helped me as well grow in my understanding and love for the Lord. Recently I picked up a copy of his book Respectable Sins. In this book, Bridges walks through various sins we as Christians tend to see as not that big of a deal. These are sins we often overlook in light of the “big” sins we see in the world around us. Bridges calls these sins we don’t take seriously and often overlook “respectable sins.” Some of the sins he deals with are anxiety, pride, discontentment, unthankfulness, anger, and judgmentalism. There are several other sins he covers in this book. What I loved about this book was how Bridges didn’t hold back in addressing the seriousness of each of these sins. He shows the reader what God says about these things from His Word. However, Bridges doesn’t stop there. He helps the reader understand how they can fight each sin in very practical ways. I’d encourage every Christian to read this book and allow God to use it to expose overlooked sins in their life.
Heaven by Randy Alcorn. This book has been on my list for a few years. I wish I would have read it earlier because after reading it I was amazed at how many misconceptions I had about heaven. As Christians, we all believe in heaven and know the Bible talks about it but often we just don’t have a really good picture of what heaven is and what it will be like. I was one of those Christians. In this book, Alcorn helps us understand what heaven is and what it will be like. He spends some time dealing with the intermediate heaven (where believers now go when they die) and then the majority of the book deals with the new earth, which we commonly call heaven (where all believers will spend eternity). Alcorn deals with the theology of heaven, common questions people ask about heaven, and how we should live in light of heaven. What I loved about this book was how detailed Alcorn was in explaining heaven and what the Bible says. He doesn’t leave any stone unturned. He backs up everything he says with Scripture and careful study of it. One of the big things Alcorn helps the reader see in this book is that heaven is not some mystical place above the clouds where we will spend forever as disembodied spirits. In fact, heaven (or better yet the “new earth”) will be a physical place where we will spend forever with our Lord in resurrected bodies. The new earth is much like the present earth but with the curse lifted and the physical presence of God. The new earth (or heaven) will be a restoration of how things were before the curse, how things were meant to be. This book did two big things for me. First, it removed many misconceptions I had about heaven. Second, it gave me a clear picture of what heaven will be like, which created in me a fresh desire for it. I believe every Christian should read this book. It will give you a fresh view and desire for our eternal home.
Four Views on the Book of Revelation by Various Authors. Revelation is one of the most interesting and debated books in the Bible. When it comes to interpreting the book of Revelation, there are various views. In this book, four major views of discussed: preterist, idealist, progressive dispensational, and classic dispensational. Each view is explained and defended by someone who holds to that view. No matter where you fall on the interpretation of Revelation, this book will help you understand each view and why people hold to that view. In summary, the preterist view sees Revelation has been historical (the events already happened, specifically with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.), the idealist view sees Revelation has being a “spiritualized picture” of the ongoing fight between good and evil, the progressive dispensational view sees the events of Revelation happening in the future and doesn’t hold to much of a distinction between Israel and the church, and the classic dispensational view sees the events of Revelation happening in the future but sees a clear distinction between Israel and the church (their view would see most of the events of Revelation being centered around Israel, since the church would be raptured before the tribulation). I was familiar with a few of these views before reading this book but after reading it I learned a lot about the other views. This book help me to see the strengths and weaknesses of each view.
Another book I recently read but chose not to review is Onward by Russell Moore. I am currently reading We Cannot Be Silent by Albert Mohler and Soul Detox by Craig Groeshel.